Friday, April 24, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Sergio Santos!


The Dodgers threw a bit of a curveball. 

With the recent trade for Xavier Cedeno the other day and word that he would meet the team in San Diego, I naturally assumed that he would be placed into the Dodgers bullpen today.  Considering the flurry of roster moves the club has made to shuffle players in-and-out of the team roster it seemed obvious.  Well... I shoulda realized that assuming anything only makes an ass out of me.

This afternoon the Dodger instead announced that Cedeno would be DFA'd and 31-year old veteran reliever Sergio Santos, only acquired by the Dodgers in early January, would join the team.

Via a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Sergio Santos, optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Bolsinger to Triple-A Oklahoma City and designated left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeño for assignment.

Santos last pitched on Tuesday, with a scoreless inning of relief against Nashville (Athletics), and tossed scoreless relief in five of six appearances with Oklahoma City, posting a 3.86 ERA (2 ER/4.2 IP). The 31-year-old was a non-roster invitee at Spring Training and allowed seven runs (six earned) in 10.2 innings in 11 games (one start) with the Dodgers. The Los Angeles native was signed by the club as a free agent on Dec. 29, 2014 and has a 7-12 record with 39 saves and a 3.89 ERA in 180 games in five Major League seasons with the White Sox (2010-11) and Blue Jays (2012-14).
Bolsinger, the reigning Triple-A Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week, allowed just one run on five hits in 5.2 innings in a no-decision as the Dodgers' spot starter yesterday at San Francisco.

Cedeño was acquired on Wednesday from Washington in exchange for cash considerations.
Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
"Growing up in LA, I was a huge Dodgers fan. Ever since I got in baseball, I always hoped for an opportunity to be traded to them, or to become a free agent to be able to sign with them," Santos said during spring training. "It's a little surreal putting on the Dodgers hat and Dodgers uniform, especially because I've put it on for so long but never been a part of the team, so it's nice to be a part of that now."
In celebration of Santos' arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo taken by Dodger photoagrapher Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015 and the 1962 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball-Reference:


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The Ugliest Sketch Card You'll Ever See


Holy Mackerel!  What is this abomination? 

Card manufacturers have been including artistically drawn sketch cards in many of their products over the years, and most of them (at least the ones made into actual subsets) are quite good.  When you commission with noted artist like Monty Sheldon and Brian Kong you know it'll be top notch. 

Unfortunately, it appears that Topps has over-stretched by casting too wide a net.  The above Clayton Kershaw sketch card (that originally came to my attention through an blog post by Corky at Pack War) can be found here on eBay.  It has the outrageous price of $499 attached to it, and for the life of me I cannot imagine anyone forking over that kind of dough.

Not that it's the fault of the seller.  This collector pulled a scarce and super-rare "1 of 1" card, and basically got screwed.  A card that could very well have been a showpiece in anyone's collection - should have been - is instead the butt of some terrible joke.  Yes, this card is a joke and Topps should never have allowed it to be distributed into their product.

Per Corky, the card appears to have been drawn by a "Elmo Perez," at least that's the best he can make out from the signature on the reverse.  Check it out for yourself below.

I shudder at the thought of finding one of these cards by "Elmo" in a pack.

Since this post is on the topic of sketch cards I figured I'd shared some pics of some of the better 2015 Museum sketch cards that have been unearthed so far.  After all, I gotta do something to wash out the stink from my eyes.  Also, go here to check out the sketch cards that made it into Museum's subset this year.

The below Clayton Kershaw card was drawn by Kevin-John.  You can check out the artist website here.
(eBay Auction Link)

And I'm very impressed by these next two cards drawn by Dan Bergren.

(eBay Auction Link)
(pic via Blowout Board)

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Blog Kiosk: 4/24/2015 - Dodger Links - Bolsinger Impresses in Dodger Debut


Accentuate the positive.

Yeah, it's tough to lose to the Giants and it's worse when it culminates into sweep, but there was plenty to like.  And gosh darn it, I'd rather start off my morning thinking about what positives we can take away from the series rather than fret about three games in an 162 game season.

For instance, Guerrero continues to mash the ball like a toddler who's discovered the joy of Play-Doh.  And Adrian Gonzalez came out of his recent funk to hit a deep homer to centerfield.  Best yet, we had the opportunity to witness one of the front office's earliest acquisitions impress on the field.

Mike Bolsinger was fantastic in his Dodger debut as a starter.  He went  5 2/3 innings against the Giants - knocking out five strike outs against two walks.  Bolsinger masterfully used a combination of his fastball and slider to keep batters on their toes before bringing his "Uncle Charlie" to leave them stammered.  No doubt, he'll be seen as a future candidate for spot starts throughout the season, and a possible competitor for a rotation position later on.  Via Alex Espinoza  at MLB.com:
"It's tough to say. In a way, yeah, I think I have [proved myself]," Bolsinger said. "Whatever happens, happens. I just want to put myself in the best possible situation so that if something comes up, they think of me."
Yes, you have shown us the daylight, and before the night is over I suspect you'll force us to keep you around.  The above photo of Mike Bolsinger was taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015Go here to check out more pics of his from yesterday's game.  Jon also shares some fantastic B&W photos from the day here.  Below are some more links to check out:
“Time Warner simply did a stupid deal,” Ganis said. “At some point, they’re going to have to bite the bullet, and it might as well be sooner rather than later so Dodger fans can watch the games.”
And the Dodgers, as a unit, are working higher than they did. Compared to last year, the Dodgers have increased their high-fastball rate by almost 11 percentage points.
"I see developing more important. The ultimate goal is to have the Dodgers win," (Bill Haselman) said. "And if we can win by doing that, great.  Everyone in this clubhouse including myself wants to win. But I want to make sure that these guys are ready to go up when they go up because when the Dodgers win, we all win."




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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sandy Koufax, Pat Zachry and a Red Barber Collectible at Heritage Auctions

Enough with writing about Time Warner and their shenanigans.  I'm sick of it, and I wish it wasn't pertinent to the Dodgers.  But, it is.

Thankfully, I don't have to dwell on it for long because there is an upcoming auction through Heritage that has me transfixed on some fantastic Dodger memorabilia.  Check out some previews below. 

Above is a circa 1980's game worn jacket worn by Sandy Koufax.  I wonder if this would fit me.

Below is a 1988 Dodgers World Championship ring given to former Dodger pitcher Pat Zachry.  At the time, Zachry was not playing Baseball, but was an front office employee for the club.
(Auction Link)


This next item might be the coolest of all.  Featured below is a 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers silver presentation box given by the club to legendary broadcaster Red Barber.  Engraved on the reverse is the following:
Presented By Brooklyn National League Baseball Club To Walter "Red" Barber In Grateful Recognition of Distinguished Services To Baseball and to Brooklyn - May 24, 1943.
(Auction Link)
(Auction Link)

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New Reports: Comcast to Walk Away from Merger

Following up on yesterday's short post, we get word this morning via Alex Sherman at Bloomberg that his sources indicate that Comcast will drop their intended merger with Time Warner Cable.
Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said, after regulators decided that the deal wouldn’t help consumers, making approval unlikely.

A formal announcement on the deal’s fate may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information.
This development comes just after word leaked out that the FCC was planning a hearing on the merger - which by most accounts meant that the merger was dead in the water.  Bloomberg's story confirms that Comcast would rather walk away then fight through that process.  In light of this, another player may come into the picture.  Charter Communication may seek to acquire Time Warner themselves.
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What this means for Dodger fans is hard to gauge at the moment. It had been widely reported that the expansion of the SportsNet LA channel throughout Los Angeles was dependent on a successful merger between the two cable giants.  Now that this appears to be dead there's increased uncertainty about when the remaining 70% of homes will get the channel. 

Who knows, maybe never.

I jest, of course.  But, I will say that I wouldn't count on anything happening right away.

I recently wrote this is a thread on reddit regarding the matter:
From what I understand it's a partnership between TWC and the Dodgers, and right now they are not making money because of the lack of RSN coverage. If there is no merger than the RSN coverage doesn't change and SportsNet LA continues to lose money since they are obligated to pay the Dodgers regardless. The only way to change that situation is to force a renegotiation of the original contract... At least, that's my assessment of the situation.
I fear that something like the above will happen, and it will ultimately lead to a long-drawn-out process before there is coverage throughout Los Angeles.  We could be talking years.

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2015 Topps Chipz - The Dodger Chips

The oddest collectible in the hobby has just been released.  It is called Chipz, and as the name suggest it's a poker-styled chip featuring your favorite ballplayer.  I have yet to see a complete checklist, but I'm certain I've got photos of all the Dodger players available.  Check them out below.

BTW, the normal base Chipz are the white border chips.  Parallel borders come in Red (1:2 packs), Blue (1:4), Green (1:6) and Black (1:10).  There are also Red Foil (one per case) and Gold Foil (1:10) Stickers.

I am also aware of only one Dodger memorabilia Chipz.  It is of Yasiel Puig, and you can see one of them below. 

#Adrian Gonzalez                               #Zack Greinke

#Clayton Kershaw                                  #Yasiel Puig

#Hanley Ramirez                             #Hyun-Jin Ryu

Game-Used Memorabilia

#Yasiel Puig

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Mike Bolsinger Called Up to Start Against Giants this Afternoon


As you likely already know, the Dodgers have called up right-handed starting pitcher Mike Bolsinger to start tonight's game against the Giants.  Yesterday's starting center fielder Chris Heisey has been optioned back to AAA.  Via a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today recalled right-handed pitcher Mike Bolsinger from Triple-A Oklahoma City, replacing outfielder Chris Heisey on the active roster. Bolsinger will make his Dodger debut as today’s starting pitcher at San Francisco.

Bolsinger, 27, was selected as the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week for the opening week of the minor league season, going 2-0 and tossing 11.0 scoreless innings in two starts with Oklahoma City. He allowed just three hits (3-for-34, .088), while striking out 17 and walking only three. Bolsinger was acquired from the D-backs on Nov. 22, 2014 and made 10 appearances (nine starts) for Arizona last year in his first Major League action, going 1-6 with a 5.50 ERA.
As you'll recall, Bolsinger came to the Dodgers via a trade over the winter with Arizona for cash.  At the time I mentioned a story written by Jared Kwart at MoxyBall at the close of the season:
Moving over to the National League, Mike Bolsinger jumps off the page as someone who has had a lot of bad luck in 2014 as well. He has a steady base of skills from a K (8.25 K/9) and BB (2.92 BB/9) perspective. With a 3.31 xFIP compared to a 5.50 ERA, we don’t have to look much further than a .355 BABIP to see we can expect better things from Bolsinger once positive regression kicks in.
So far, in two Minor League starts for Oklahoma City he is been fantastic.  Heck, he's been dominating in AAA so far, and the metrics spoken about in the Jared Kwart story above appears to be ringing true.  Bolsinger is on the upswing.

Via Alex Espinoza at MLB.com:
"It's not like the first time you got called up," Bolsinger said. "But in a way, it kind of was because you're playing for the Dodgers. There's only a few teams in Major League Baseball that you can really be blown away with, and Dodgers is one of those. It's an awesome feeling. Very honored."
In celebration of Bolsinger's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him since my last one did not include him in Dodger Blue.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America) and the 1968 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball-Reference:


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Blog Kiosk: 4/23/2015 - Dodger Links - Interference, the Dodger Bullpen and Chris Rock's Take


Fantastic!

You can see that glare in his eye, the growl on his face and a steely determination in the body language of the Dodger ace in the photo above.  He's coming out of the dugout ready to battle and Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo was able to capture it all in black & white.  Apparently, we have second baseman Howie Kendrick to thank for Jon's use of shades in a group of photos shared this morning, and I hope it continues.  There something about black & white photography that I find appealing.  Maybe it's the subtleties it naturally accentuates or how it causes the eye to move about from dark to bright shades in a whirlwind.  I dunno.  Go here to check out more B&W pics from Jon.

As for last night's game... Well, it was a tough one to lose.  We saw a dramatic game-tying home run by our wunderkind infielder Alex Guerrero, a resurgent pitching performance by Clayton Kershaw and a deflating walk-off sacrifice fly.  Sigh.  We'll get'em next time.

Below are some links to check out:
  • I guess folks want to drum up a controversy about the lack of an interference call in the ninth inning, but I refuse to bite.   It was a good non-call.  I do find a couple of tweets by some Dodgers after the game funny, though: (McCarthy & Anderson)
From four closers to no closers in a year's time, the Dodgers bullpen couldn't possibly be any different than it was a year ago. And despite their lack of anything resembling a proven ninth-inning workhorse, LA's bullpen has been nothing short of amazing so far.
De Leon’s fringe credentials are strong: he was selected out of Southern University by the Dodgers in just the 24th round of the 2013 draft, receiving just a $35,000 bonus. His performance hasn’t been a product merely of collegiate polish, either: De Leon sits at 93-95 mph now and features a pair of useful secondary pitches, as well. Over his first two starts this season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, he’s recorded a 13:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 34 batters in 9.0 innings.

  • A Dodger reclamation project has just been let go, via a tweet from Jacob Unruh.  Oh well.  I was really hoping that this one would pan out.

  • Panini just released some preview pics of their 2015 Cooperstown Baseball card set; including the fantastic Jackie Robinson card playing golf on the right.  Go here to check out more pics from them.  BTW, the set comes out in late June.
  • You should check this out.  Chris Rock sounds off on MLB's diversity problem at HBO Real Sports.  I don't know if the problem can be simply solved by allowing more grandiose celebrations, but I do understand his point about the criticism laid on Puig for his style of play.  Heck, there's seems to be a concerted effort by many to stop players from expressing "JOY" while on the field, and that needs to stop.  And folks need to stop using the phrase "Respect for the Game" because it's a load of BS.  Celebration does not show disrespect, instead it shows a heightened love for the sport.

Video Link:

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Proposed Comcast-Time Warner Merger is Dying

As many of you know, the Dodgers television channel SportsNet LA currently reaches only about 30% of homes, and expanding that footprint was dependent on a successful merger between Comcast and Time Warner.  Well, based upon new reports this evening that merger appears to be headed south.  That is, it is very likely dead in the water.  Per a Reuters report:
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission's staff has recommended that the agency designate Comcast Corp's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc for a hearing, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The recommendation, which would, in effect, put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, would be seen as a strong sign the FCC does not believe the deal is in the public interest, the Journal reported.
The Wall Street Jounal report includes several regulatory experts calling the hearing a deal-killer.

Earlier today both Comcast and Time Warner sat down with both the Department of Justice and the FCC to address their concerns and save the merger.  From the looks of it, those meetings have done little to change anything.

What does this mean for SportsNet LA?

Without a merger the other 70% of LA area households are not likely to get the channel any time soon.  How they will change this is entirely up in the air now. 

More to come as information comes out.

BTW, you should check out Chris Erskine's article at the LA Times about a work-around for fans who cannot watch, but want to.  Go here.

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Welcome to the Blue, Xavier Cedeno!


The Dodgers added a left handed reliever this afternoon via a trade with the Washington Nationals for cash money.  They received 28-year old Xavier Cedeno.  He is not currently with the club, but is expected to join the Dodgers in San Diego on Friday, via a tweet from JP Hoornstra:
I had initially figured he would be heading to the minor leagues to provide more bullpen depth, but then I discovered that Cedeno is without options.  So, he can't be sent down unless he clears waivers.  That means keeping him with the big club or testing the waiver waters.  Since JP Hoornstra mentions that he'll be coming to San Diego then it's only logical to assume that he will replace someone on the 25-man roster at that time.  Based on the game of musical chairs the club is playing, I suspect Mike Bolsinger will be optioned back to the Minors.  Mike is expected to replace Chris Heisey for a spot start on Thursday.

So, overall it looks like we will have:
  • Chris Heisey recalled; and Adam Liberatore optioned to Minors today
  • Mike Bolsinger recalled; Chris Heisey optioned to Minors tomorrow
  • Xavier Cedeno addded to 25-man roster; Mike Bolsinger options to Minors on Friday
Whew!  That's a lot of shuffling there.

Via a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno from Washington in exchange for cash considerations. To make room on the 40-man roster, Los Angeles designated right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino for assignment.

Cedeno, 28, has made two relief appearances for Washington this year, allowing two runs in 3.0 innings, and has gone 0-1 with one save and a 5.24 ERA in 77 career big league appearances for the Astros (2011-13) and Nationals (2013-15). The native of Puerto Rico was originally selected by the Rockies in the 31st round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and has a 42-41 record with nine saves and a 4.15 ERA in 256 games (103 starts) in nine minor league seasons.
I don't know too much about Cedeno, but Eric Stephen at True Blue LA does provide a little glimpse:
Left-handed batters have hit .252/.331/.351 against Cedeno in his career, with 39 strikeouts and nine walks in 126 plate appearances. Right-handers, by comparison, have hit .339/.409/.532 with 15 walks and 15 strikeouts.
In celebration of Cedeno's arrival to the club I made the above fantasy card for him.  I grabbed a photo by Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos via Getty Image sand the 1968 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Xavier Cedeno, via Baseball-Reference:


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